Report Indicates Ex-VW CEO Played Central Role In Dieselgate
In the what did he know and when did he know it department, it now appears that Martin Winterkorn, former chief executive of Volkswagen, not only knew about the Dieselgate scandal, he may have initiated it. The German newspaper Bild Zeitung obtained an internal Volkswagen memo dated July 30, 2015, that shows Winterkorn played the central role in the scandal and an attempted coverup.
”Approval Diesel U.S.A.
The memorandum, entitled “Approval diesel U.S.A.,” covered a meeting that two VW employees were scheduled to have with Dr. Alberto Ayala of the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The meeting was for “an unofficial information exchange.” The memo went on to discuss the strategy for the meeting. The note indicated that issues with VW diesel engines should only be “partially disclosed.” It continued that this “approach has been confirmed by Prof. Winterkorn on July 28, 2015.”
Winterkorn’s early knowledge of Dieselgate is also apparent from a report on a meeting of a Volkswagen internal damage control board, the “Schadensticsch.” The board is staffed by experts from various departments within the carmaker. At the meeting, Winterkorn reportedly asked: “Are we talking about CO2?” He was told: “No, its nitrous oxide.” Bild went on to say that at the “Latest on that day, Winterkorn supposedly knew all. This was seven weeks before U.S. environmental agencies went public with Dieselgate, which led to the unprecedented crash of Volkswagen shares.”
Meantime, the Bild article follows reports in the last week of the frenetic activity that has been going on at German courts as lawsuits have inundated them. Bloomberg said that “fax machines overheated” as law firms rushed to beat the one-year statute of limitations on suits regarding violations of the “ad-hoc” rule that requires the timely release information that could have a significant impact on a firm’s shares.
Huge Numbers Of Complaints
One law firm reportedly delivered more than 5,000 complaints by truck. The lawsuits filed in Dieselgate’s financial wake are seeking nearly $12 billion in damages.
The Dieselgate scandal has taken on a life of its own since July 8, 2015. That was the day CARB told the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and VW that there were significant problems with emissions tests on diesel cars. The problems centered on the huge discrepancies between real-world emissions from diesel VWs and those measured in tests taken by CARB’s rolling lab. Mashable, reporting on the issue, said: “VW offered up excuses for the inconsistency in tailpipe NOx levels, but the EPA wasn’t buying it.”